Erika Dickerson-Despenza's shadow/land officially opened its Off-Broadway run at The Public Theater's LuEsther Hall May 4, and the reviews are rolling in. Previews began April 20, and the run will continue through May 21.
The cast includes Lizan Mitchell as Magalee, Joniece Abbott-Pratt as Ruth, and Christine Shepard as Grand Marshal. Perri Gaffney, Lynnette R. Freeman, and Joy-Marie Thompson round out the company as understudies.
Shadow/land is the first installment of a 10-play cycle examining the ongoing effects of Hurricane Katrina and urban renewal in New Orleans. The story centers on Ruth, who coaxes her mother to sell the family business, New Orleans’ first air-conditioned dance hall and hotel for Black people, just as Hurricane Katrina begins its strike on the city. The work previously premiered as an audio play via The Public in 2021.
Read the reviews below.
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Candis C. Jones is back to helm the live production after directing the streaming premiere, leading a creative team that includes scenic designer Jason Ardizzone-West, costume designer Azalea Fairley, lighting designer Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew, sound designer Palmer Hefferan, composer Delfeayo Marsalis, movement director Jill M. Vallery, and intimacy coordinator Ann James. Hair, wig, and makeup design are by Earon Chew Nealey, and Nissy Aya and Jack Phillips Moore serve as production dramaturgs. Janelle Caso is production stage manager, and casting is by Heidi Griffiths and Kate Murray.
Dickerson-Despenza was the Public's 2019-2020 Tow Foundation playwright-in-residence and a Laurents/Hatcher Foundation Award and Lilly Award recipient. She won the 2021 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for cullud wattah.